Mike Pence: Meet Donald Trump's Vice President

Mike Pence is the Vice President of the United States. The former Indiana governor, 61, was picked to be Donald Trump's running mate in 2016 and now stands "a heartbeat from the presidency". Here’s everything you need to know about him. Vice-presidential debate Trading barbs through plexiglass shields, Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris turned the only vice presidential debate of 2020 into a dissection of the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with Ms Harris labeling it "the greatest failure of any presidential administration". Mr Pence, who leads the president's coronavirus task force, acknowledged that "our nation's gone through a very challenging time this year", yet vigorously defended the administration's overall response to a pandemic that has killed 210,000 Americans. They also went head-to-head on abortion, the Supreme Court and the environment. Read more: Vice-presidential debate 2020: Harris and Pence clash over coronavirus response Will Mike Pence ever be president? If Mr Trump had been successfully impeached by the Democrats Mr Pence would have become president. And if Mr Trump were ever to step down due to ill health, Mr Pence would take over. If Mr Trump were to become incapacitated he can, under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, hand over power to Mr Pence, would become "acting president". From Democrat to conservative radio host Mr Pence was raised a Democrat by Irish-Catholic parents in Indiana, and considered John F Kennedy one of his first heroes. His conversion to born-again Christianity, and the influence of Ronald Reagan, saw him shift to the Right of the political spectrum. Before entering Congress he worked as a Right-wing radio host, describing himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf”. He married his wife Karen in 1985 and they have three children - Michael, Charlotte and Audrey. Mike Pence pictured in South Korea in April. Credit: AP Trusted by the Republican Party Mr Pence was considered a safe choice when he was appointed. He's a long-serving Republican official with close ties both to the party establishment and grassroots. Members of the Republican establishment have lauded him for his experience and his solid conservative credentials. He has been in office for two decades, first as a member of Congress and, from 2013, as Indiana’s governor. While in office he pushed for a reduction in government spending, gaining a reputation as a fiscal conservative. He endorsed Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican primaries, and was praised by Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who described him a "personal friend" and a "movement conservative". Mr Pence is also an Evangelical Christian, and was an early supporter of the Tea Party movement. Controversial gay rights stance Mr Pence’s most controversial decision as governor was to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in 2015. Advocates said it would expand “religious liberty” by allowing business owners to push back when government policy was in conflict with their beliefs. But opponents said the law was discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, and it was criticised by Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, and other prominent business leaders. Pence later signed a revised version of the law, but not before giving a widely criticised interview attempting to defend the original legislation. Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan applaud as President Donald Trump as he delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress in February. Credit: EPA/JIM LO SCALZO / POOL He’s no Donald Trump Mr Trump and Mr Pence provide a study in contrasts. The president is a free-wheeling showman, while Mr Pence is more measured, and has spoken out against negative campaigning. Mr Trump said he decided he did not need an “attack dog” as a running mate, though, instead wanting someone who could help sell his proposals to Congress.  That saw him reject the likes of Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie in favour of Mr Pence, the so-called "safe option". However, their relationship was rocky to begin with. In 2016 Mr Pence initially called Mr Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the US "offensive and unconstitutional", before endorsing Ted Cruz in Indiana's primary election. He quickly backed Mr Trump after that decisive contest, though, and his appointment as running mate was seen as a bridge between Trump-resistant Republicans and their unorthodox nominee. When he accepted the vice-presidential nomination, he described his running mate MR Trump as a "good man". Mopping up after Mr Trump has been a key part of Mr Pence's role as running mate and vice- president. The mild-mannered Midwesterner with strong conservative credentials tried to toughen the businessman's stance on Russia.  When Mr Trump clashed with American Muslim parents whose son was killed serving the military in Iraq, it was Mr Pence who issued a

Mike Pence: Meet Donald Trump's Vice President

Mike Pence is the Vice President of the United States. The former Indiana governor, 61, was picked to be Donald Trump's running mate in 2016 and now stands "a heartbeat from the presidency".

Here’s everything you need to know about him.

Vice-presidential debate

Trading barbs through plexiglass shields, Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris turned the only vice presidential debate of 2020 into a dissection of the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with Ms Harris labeling it "the greatest failure of any presidential administration".

Mr Pence, who leads the president's coronavirus task force, acknowledged that "our nation's gone through a very challenging time this year", yet vigorously defended the administration's overall response to a pandemic that has killed 210,000 Americans.

They also went head-to-head on abortion, the Supreme Court and the environment.

Read more: Vice-presidential debate 2020: Harris and Pence clash over coronavirus response

Will Mike Pence ever be president?

If Mr Trump had been successfully impeached by the Democrats Mr Pence would have become president.

And if Mr Trump were ever to step down due to ill health, Mr Pence would take over.

If Mr Trump were to become incapacitated he can, under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, hand over power to Mr Pence, would become "acting president".

From Democrat to conservative radio host

Mr Pence was raised a Democrat by Irish-Catholic parents in Indiana, and considered John F Kennedy one of his first heroes. His conversion to born-again Christianity, and the influence of Ronald Reagan, saw him shift to the Right of the political spectrum.

Before entering Congress he worked as a Right-wing radio host, describing himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf”. He married his wife Karen in 1985 and they have three children - Michael, Charlotte and Audrey.

Mike Pence pictured in South Korea in April. Credit: AP

Trusted by the Republican Party

Mr Pence was considered a safe choice when he was appointed. He's a long-serving Republican official with close ties both to the party establishment and grassroots. Members of the Republican establishment have lauded him for his experience and his solid conservative credentials.

He has been in office for two decades, first as a member of Congress and, from 2013, as Indiana’s governor.

While in office he pushed for a reduction in government spending, gaining a reputation as a fiscal conservative. He endorsed Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican primaries, and was praised by Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who described him a "personal friend" and a "movement conservative".

Mr Pence is also an Evangelical Christian, and was an early supporter of the Tea Party movement.

Controversial gay rights stance

Mr Pence’s most controversial decision as governor was to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in 2015.

Advocates said it would expand “religious liberty” by allowing business owners to push back when government policy was in conflict with their beliefs. But opponents said the law was discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, and it was criticised by Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, and other prominent business leaders.

Pence later signed a revised version of the law, but not before giving a widely criticised interview attempting to defend the original legislation.

Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan applaud as President Donald Trump as he delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress in February. Credit: EPA/JIM LO SCALZO / POOL

He’s no Donald Trump

Mr Trump and Mr Pence provide a study in contrasts. The president is a free-wheeling showman, while Mr Pence is more measured, and has spoken out against negative campaigning.

Mr Trump said he decided he did not need an “attack dog” as a running mate, though, instead wanting someone who could help sell his proposals to Congress.  That saw him reject the likes of Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie in favour of Mr Pence, the so-called "safe option".

However, their relationship was rocky to begin with.

In 2016 Mr Pence initially called Mr Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the US "offensive and unconstitutional", before endorsing Ted Cruz in Indiana's primary election. He quickly backed Mr Trump after that decisive contest, though, and his appointment as running mate was seen as a bridge between Trump-resistant Republicans and their unorthodox nominee.

When he accepted the vice-presidential nomination, he described his running mate MR Trump as a "good man".

Mopping up after Mr Trump has been a key part of Mr Pence's role as running mate and vice- president. The mild-mannered Midwesterner with strong conservative credentials tried to toughen the businessman's stance on Russia. 

When Mr Trump clashed with American Muslim parents whose son was killed serving the military in Iraq, it was Mr Pence who issued a statement saying the family should be "cherished by every American."

He is a major player in the administration

The post of vice president can be one of the most frustrating in US politics. John Nance Garner, who served two terms under FDR was quoted as describing the job as not being worth a bucket of warm spit.

However, Mr Pence has been pivotal to the Trump administration so far - at home and abroad. 

Within a few days of Mr Trump's victory in 2016 Mr Pence was catapulted into the job of chairing the transition team at the expense or Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor.

US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend the first day of the Republican National Convention  Credit:  AFP

He has also headed the rebuilding of the space programme, chaired The National Space Council, helped establish the Space Force, and moved America toward a return to the moon and an eventual mission to Mars.

When the pandemic began the president chose Mr Pence to head the White House coronavirus task force, chairing daily meetings with medical experts and briefing Mr Trump.

Above all else, throughout his four years in the role so far, Mr Pence has remained steadfastly loyal to the president, often appearing on television to defend him during controversies.

Regardless of the outcome on Nov 3, Mr Pence is in a strong position to become the favourite to secure the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.